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What It Takes to Land a Professional Position Abroad

Have you ever pictured yourself becoming part of the international jet set? Companies are willing to pay their employees handsomely if they’re willing to live and work in a foreign office. However, a professional career that takes you overseas isn’t something that happens overnight. If you want a rewarding position abroad, you need to start working toward it now. This article will help you take your first steps in the right direction.

Know the Language

Wherever you plan to go, it’s absolutely critical that you’re comfortable holding a conversation in the native language. You’ll never be taken seriously as a professional (or even get a job) if you aren’t. Imagine a meeting where your clients frequently switched from English to confer privately. That’s definitely not a situation you want to end up in.

There are countless ways to learn a language, but the best way to learn is by speaking it as much as possible. So, try to make friends with someone who speaks the language you are learning! If you can’t find anyone, try a language exchange website. You’ll get matched up with someone who speaks the language you want to learn and you can teach each other for free!

Experience Experience Experience

It’s very likely that the position you’re gunning for is going to be highly competitive. International experience isn’t just a way to stand out — it’s the only way you’ll get hired. Companies aren’t typically willing to trust someone unless they’ve wet their feet with a serious foreign experience like an internship or volunteer position. If you don’t have one yet, go after it!

An Unfamiliar Hiring Process

The hiring process (applying, interviewing, salary negotiation) can vary greatly from one country to another. Before you begin pursuing a position, make sure you’re familiar with navigating the professional nuances of your target culture.

One major difference in the hiring process is the document with which you present your credentials. In the United States, unless you’re an academic, your employer probably requested a resume. Overseas, you’ll need a CV (curriculum vitae)instead. What’s the difference? While resumes are usually a single page of only your relevant education, work experience and skills, a CV lists all your accomplishments, including awards, speeches, presentations and more. If you haven’t put together a CV yet, start working on one as soon as possible.

When you make it to the interview, remember to keep things professional and formal. Humor often doesn’t translate well across cultures, so it’s a poor way to try to win over a prospective employer. As long as your language skills and cultural IQ are well polished, you’ll do fine.

Finding the Right Position

Unfortunately, it’s possible that you won’t land your dream job in your dream location. Ultimately, market forces determine who is needed where. For example, an expert in securities analysis will probably have a much harder time finding work in a tropical island nation than in a First World city. If your career already has momentum, the question you should be asking is, “Where are my skills needed?” Start with a search like “international opportunities for [your profession].”

Most internationally employed professional Americans find their jobs through North American organizations or companies that have offices overseas. This is a great option because, although you don’t get to choose your destination, the headache of obtaining a work permit and visa will be taken care of for you. Depending on the organization, you’ll probably have a much easier time finding adequate housing than if you were to go looking on your own.

Landing a professional position abroad isn’t easy ¾ but it is rewarding. While most people are emptying their bank accounts to taste an unfamiliar culture, you’ll be busy deciding in which country to invest all your earnings!